Free parking a thing of the past in city centre

2013-02-19 00:00

A DECADE of free parking in the Pietermaritzburg city centre has come to an end.

The Msunduzi Municipality began its rollout of a paid parking meter system in the city centre at the beginning of February.

However, it appears some motorists resist having to cough up for the parking they have had for free for so long.

The system started operating in the central business district three weeks ago, according to parking meter attendant Thamisanqa Ntshangase.

He is employed to monitor the “intelligent parking manager”, a device that records the time a vehicle spends parked in a bay so that it can be charged correctly.

Ntshangase said the main problem was that the public were still not aware that the system was in operation and that free parking was a thing of the past in certain parts of the city.

“We get sworn at by angry motorists who think we are taking chances and they drive off without paying for parking,” he said.

Another attendant, Slindile Mkhize, complained about the level of abuse by motorists who refused to co-operate, but said others were willing to pay.

“I do not get worried when they refuse to pay.

“I just take down their registration plates and note in the gadget that the driver refused to pay,” she said.

Mkhize said that once she had recorded the offending vehicle’s number plate, it was up to traffic officers to fine the owner.

A former car guard, Sizwe Ntshiza, who is now a parking meter attendant, said the system had taught him that it paid to do something to improve one’s life.

“I would not have been afforded this opportunity if I had not been a car guard here previously,” he said.

Ntshiza said his life was better now that motorists were having to pay for parking because he gets to keep 40% of the fee.

A motorist who declined to give his name said the parking meter attendants should have a uniform instead of reflector jackets that they were wearing so they were easily identifiable.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said the parking system kicked in at the beginning of February.

For now, he said, the parking attendants were operating in the part of the CBD bounded by Boshoff, Peter Kerchhoff, Langalibalele and Pietermaritz streets.

“The bays are clearly marked, numbered and manned by attendants. We are satisfied with the progress so far,” Zuma said.

He encouraged motorists to co-operate with attendants so that parking in the city was orderly.

Parking in the CBD now costs R3 for half an hour.

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